December, 2014

Book Chapter: Rethinking The Terms of Choice

A Dialogue with Vincent Ostrom
  • Paul Dragos Aligica

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Volume Editors: Daniel H. Cole and Michael D. McGinnis 

Chapter Description: 

Paul Dragos Aligica interviews Vincent Ostrom on his work with Elinor Ostrom on institutional analysis, the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, and the methods of the Bloomington School. 

Book Description: 

Elinor (Lin) Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her pathbreaking research on "economic governance, especially the commons"; but she also made important contributions to several other fields of political economy and public policy. The range of topics she covered and the multiple methods she used might convey the mistaken impression that her body of work is disjointed and incoherent. 
This four-volume compendium of papers written by Lin, alone or with various coauthors (most
notably including her husband and partner, Vincent), supplemented by others expanding
on their work, brings together the common strands of research that serve to tie her impressive oeuvre together. That oeuvre, together with Vincent's own impressive body of work, has come to define a distinctive school of political-economic thought, the "Bloomington School."
Each of the four volumes is organized around a central theme of Lin's work. Volume 1 explores the roles played by the concept polycentricity in the disciplines of public administration, political science, and other forms of political economy. Polycentricity denotes a complex system of governance in which public authorities, citizens, and private organizations work together to establish and enforce the rules that guide their behavior. It encapsulates an approach toward policy analysis that blurs standard disciplinary boundaries between the social sciences. 
Throughout their long and remarkably productive careers, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom never tired of reminding us of the capacity of ordinary humans to transcend their own limitations by engaging with others in the myriad forms of collective action required to build and sustain a self-governing society. Their careers stand as exemplars of the proper relationship between rigorous scholarship and responsible citizenship.

Elinor (Lin) Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for her pathbreaking research on "economic governance, especially the commons"; but she also made important contributions to several other fields of political economy and public policy. The range of topics she covered and the multiple methods she used might convey the mistaken impression that her body of work is disjointed and incoherent. 

This four-volume compendium of papers written by Lin, alone or with various coauthors (mostnotably including her husband and partner, Vincent), supplemented by others expandingon their work, brings together the common strands of research that serve to tie her impressive oeuvre together. That oeuvre, together with Vincent's own impressive body of work, has come to define a distinctive school of political-economic thought, the "Bloomington School."

Each of the four volumes is organized around a central theme of Lin's work. Volume 1 explores the roles played by the concept polycentricity in the disciplines of public administration, political science, and other forms of political economy. Polycentricity denotes a complex system of governance in which public authorities, citizens, and private organizations work together to establish and enforce the rules that guide their behavior. It encapsulates an approach toward policy analysis that blurs standard disciplinary boundaries between the social sciences. 

Throughout their long and remarkably productive careers, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom never tired of reminding us of the capacity of ordinary humans to transcend their own limitations by engaging with others in the myriad forms of collective action required to build and sustain a self-governing society. Their careers stand as exemplars of the proper relationship between rigorous scholarship and responsible citizenship.

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